habits of world champions
Five things y'need to carry the crown: a paid BFF, a distorted view of reality, a sleight of hand, the ability to turn fours into eights and… one shaper for life.

The 5 Habits of World Champions!

You need a paid best friend! You need a distorted view of reality! And three more!

Since 2005, Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning have won eight of the 10 world titles. Kelly has five; Mick has three. (Joel and Gabriel, one apiece).
Have you ever wondered what is it that separates these two men from the rest of the tour? Talent, sure, but isn’t Taj Burrow, just to pick one, as good as Kelly or Mick?
And what about Julian Wilson, Jordy Smith, Kolohe Andino, Filipe Toledo and the rest? Even brave little Matt Wilkinson! Every heat is a potential final. To continually steamroll the pack, to win multiple contests and multiple world titles means there’s something else at play.
And they are:
1. A paid BFF
Kelly has Stephen Bell aka Belly. Mick has Phil McNamara. Australia-born Belly is one of the surf pioneers of Hossegor alongside Maurice Cole, Robbie Page and Tom Curren. He arrived in France in the eighties, didn’t know a word of French, but built a life, and started a glassing factory that finished Quiksilver’s boards. And so he came to know Kelly. And they liked each other. Belly is a straight-talker and he knows boards. Kelly isn’t after a party buddy. He wants knowledge. He’s got it. Phil McNamara, meanwhile, is there to make sure Mick covers the basics, to keep his body in tune and limber enough for continual high-torque turns, to push visualisation techniques and, like Belly, just to be there.
2. A distorted view of reality
How bad do you want to win a world title? Like, really. Are you ready to sacrifice everything for the chance that, maybe, you might win a cup made in a small workshop in South Australia and worth about a grand? And by everything, that includes the parties, the pals, the comfort food, all those everyday things that make your life what it is. Anything that takes your gaze off the finish line has to be taken out of your life. And if a friend gets in your way, you have to crush him without regret. Think Kelly versus Rob Machado in 1995; Mick and Joel in 2011. It ain’t fun and that’s why Kelly and Mick own the world title.
3. A sleight of hand
It’s a subtle theatre. It’s only claiming those scores that fall on the borderline (think: Kelly’s first wave in his semi against John John in Tahiti last year). It’s maintaining a studied dignity when politely criticising judging decisions. It’s being available for post-heat interviews even when you lose. It’s the clever use of criticism of your competitors wrapped up in praise. It’s getting inside a potential rival’s head with outrageous compliments (that you don’t believe).
4. The ability to find a perfect score where none exists
Think Mick at Pipe in 2013. Did he conjure that last-minute, world-title winning wave out of the depths? How? And Kelly, every heat against Taj Burrow. Sure, they might be flat-spin airs, but last second, and totally rotated, and judges have no choice.
5. One shaper for life. 
Mick has Darren Handley; Kelly has Channel Islands. Gabriel Medina? Johnny Cabianca since 2008.

Hate Preacher of Hilo, Hawaii
For the last five years Lincoln Park, in Hilo, has been forced to deal with a nightmare transplant of the delusionally hateful god-shouter set. James Borden, a Massachusetts native, has taken it upon himself to follow in the footsteps of his haole forerunners and use the location as a sounding board for his unique brand of hateful nonsensicality.

Delusional: Meet Hawaii’s hateful god-shouter!

Free speech is a helluva thing… 

Much like Oregon, Hawaii attracts a lot of people running from their problems.  Never mind the fact that their underlying struggles are typically self inflicted and will follow them to the ends of the Earth, this little far flung archipelago presents a tempting fantasy of warm tropical days unburdened by past or proclivity. Reality is, of course, different, but that’s a fact that’s hard to appreciate until you’re staring down the barrel of our insane cost of living, lack of affordable housing, and laughably low wages.

And so a steady stream of mainland origin flights spew forth their daily assault of stinking filthy, dirty, hippy fools, nothing to lose junkie scumbags, gutter punk status dropouts, kid diddler ex-cons, and wild-eyed Jesus freaks.

Most will try and fail, others will end up dead by overdose or misadventure, but the very worst will find a toe hold and set roots like a pestilent haole weed.

For the last five years Lincoln Park, in Hilo, has been forced to deal with a nightmare transplant of the delusionally hateful god-shouter set.

James Borden, a 64-year-old Massachusetts native, has taken it upon himself to follow in the footsteps of his haole forerunners and use the location as a sounding board for his unique brand of hateful nonsensicality.

His church, the Yaweh Lincoln Park Ministry, which consists of a pickup truck with large signs affixed to the tailgate, has enlightened the local community with many bits of his home brewed wisdom over the last few years, such as “Homos using children to promote queer lifestyle” and  “Muslim Obama’s Islam go back to Saudi Arabiai [sic].”

Borden has been largely tolerated or ignored by the local community, wisely so, as it’s important to let the dumbest shout their stupid opinions so you can properly vet your own, lest you find yourself in agreement.

“You know, I always thought Borden was a moron, but his recent message about the president being a secret lizard sodomite from Kenya who smokes cigarettes and is in league with the Jew cabal living at the center of the Earth really struck a chord with me…”  Oops, time to reevaluate some stuff.

However, his latest sign has struck a nerve, featuring large depiction of what is purportedly an aborted fetus. It’s gross, everyone is really bummed out, and they’ve decided enough is enough.

Armed with signs bearing positive messages like “Live Aloha, “Honk if you love Obama,” and “A’ole racism” they’ve begun a counter protest hoping to… well, I don’t know what they really hope to accomplish.

Beyond the indisputable legality of his actions Borden actually has supporters, like mental giant, George Krail (click here):

“My wife was here earlier, and her and I were healed of the two abortions we had,” Krail said. “We were for abortion, we came to Christ, and somebody like Jim (Borden), showing us the picture of the baby, we were like my gosh, that’s what we did. That’s the reality of what we did, and that’s what turned us around.” 

And so continues another example of America’s proud tradition of religious zealots using notions of liberty in their quest to deny rights to other people who aren’t hurting anyone.

Fortunately for us, the zeitgeist is currently skewing agnostic.

Finally, Big Island is a crazy place with its own notions of frontier justice.

I will not be surprised if Borden’s corpse finds itself stuffed into a lava tube on undeveloped land in the very near future.

Julian Wilson Reunion island
Reunion Island or île de la Réunion is that sexy lil hunk of volcanic rock just east of Madagascar and south-west of Mauritius. Best uncrowded waves in the world, too, 'cause of a bull shark infestation. Jeremy Flores went there for a two-week vacation last year and didn't wet a board. The photo here is of Julian Wilson during filming for Jordy Smith's Bending Colours in 2012. | Photo: Ryan MIller

Discovered: perfect uncrowded waves!

There's just one catch. And it's a doozy… 

Everywhere’s crowded. It ain’t even a joke. You’ll fly across the globe for 20 hours, jump a domestic flight and then an overnight boat charter and you’ll wake up to the fabled perfect waves you’ve seen in surf mags… with thirty surfers.
Who needs it!
So what if I told you there was a gorgeous tropical island, so perfect there in the southern Indian, near Mauritius, near Madagascar, that hosted dozens of empty waves. Dozens. I so don’t shit you!
If you were there today, for instance, you’d ride a perfect lefthand reef, empty, a wave that lights up through July and August by those southern-hemi winter south swells.
Where is this paradise? Okay, here’s the rub. Reunion Island. More attacks than Western Australia, Byron Bay and South Africa. Home to an infestation of rabid bull sharks, pugnacious thugs unlike any other shark in the ocean. Quick to attack, slow to let go.
In April, one of the island’s best young surfers, 13-year-old Elio Canestri was hit. Killed in front of his seven friends. Fourteen attacks, seven fatals, in the last few years. Tourism, surfing, is dead on Reunion.
But it wasn’t always this way.
For a time there in the nineties Reunion was the most exotic stop on the world tour. Difficult to access, usually via Jo-berg in South African, which was already 20-plus hours from anywhere, and being an overseas department of France meant it had a demographic that was part French and part Creole (quick lesson! Creole is the name given to anyone born on the island whatever their ethnicity, but this could be anything from Chinese to Malagasy to African and Indian).
Reunion isn’t a world different to Tahiti, mountainous, blue-water reef passes and bound up with all the good French bits (food culture, education, language) without any of the stiff French formality.
Anyway, so the tour came and went, but what didn’t change was how rad this volcanic jewel is. Waves? You’ve got ’em everywhere. Kai Neville’s 2009 movie The Modern Collective showed that it was more than just St Leu; that a short drive south you could be jumping off the biggest ramps anyone had ever seen – and no one out.
Yeah, it always had a rep for sharks. It’s the Indian Ocean. It’s tropical. Like  Madagascar. Like Mauritius. Attacks happened but they were predictable. Surfers were smart enough to avoid the east coast, to avoid surfing after rains that muddied the water and by staying out of the drink at dawn and dusk. An attack here and there, but years apart, and only occasionally fatal.
But in 2007, a 19km stretch of marine reserve was created on the west coast. Nothing could be touched, shark, coral, whatever. Shark attacks spiked. And all either in or close by the new marine reserve.
Surfers are leaving the island en masse, to mainland France, to wherever, to anywhere. The number of regular surfers and bodyboarders on Reunion has dropped from over 5000 to around 60. There use to be 13 surf schools on the island. Now there’s three. One surf shop that’d sell bodyboards in the hundreds in a season has sold three in a year.
And you know what that means? Uncrowded lineups! Perfect tropical waves where you’ll beg for another person to surf with. An old gem becomes a New Classic!
Sure, the sharks are there, but isn’t there an inherent risk every time we dive into the ocean?
Anyway, if it freaks you out too much surf on Wednesday and Saturday. Vigie requin (government employed free divers with spears) patrol popular surf spots. If a shark is spotted whistles are blown and the water cleared. The vigie requin are even trained to deal with trauma. ie. sudden amputations.
Win, win…

Rob (holding trophy)
Rob (holding trophy)

I saw Rob Machado at the grocery store yesterday

He was buying one bottle of teriyaki sauce.

He stood behind me in line with his one bottle of teriyaki sauce. I was buying lots more than that but I can’t remember what and can’t remember why I didn’t let Rob cut in front of me. I didn’t bring a bag so I had to buy one for five cents. Rob didn’t need a bag because he was buying one bottle of teriyaki sauce. We talked about the famous snowboarder Nicolas Muller and about BBQing. It was nice.

Do you think Rob Machado is one of the greatest surfers ever? He is getting kind of old now even though his hair is still impossibly full. But it has grey in it.

John John Florence backside huck

How to: Land Your First Air

It ain't just a dream! You can do it!

Cutbacks and swishing back and forth on a wave is, generally, the funnest thing in the world. At least it is until you discover the relative simplicity and ultra-satisfaction of regularly landing aerials.

Have you ever tried?

I mean, have you ever consciously forced yourself to not just throw your board away above the lip, but stay over the deck, land and ride out? Probably not.

It continues to amaze me how few surfers even try to lance the boil of monotony by taking their surfing to a different dimension.

I know you want to.

And, so to further the cause, I’ve asked Josh Kerr, a 30-year-old Australian surfer living in Carlsbad, California, the WSL surfer and one-time aerial world champ, to talk you the through the mechanics of stomping aerials. This how-to is the for the average and slightly-above average surfer.

First tip?

“Stay in the top half of the wave and stall until you see the section. You only need one good pump before you hit the section. And you want to be accelerating, you want thrust, when you hit the section. So many people race, race, race, then slow down, and lose their pop when they hit the lip.”

The pop! Listen to air guys and it’s a common theme.

“It’s crucial. If you use the right part of the wave, one pump and you can go from 10 clicks to 15 in a blink.”

A common mistake Josh sees is “People kicking their board out in front of them. They’re not staying over the top of their board and they’re putting their board flat to the beach. You’ve got to be committed to stay over your board. Don’t fall back when you’re in the air.”

And air reverses? If you’re a snowboarding kinda guy or gal, you already know what Josh is going to say. If not, add the word huck to your lexicon. “It’s all about the huck. The main technique is swinging your arms and shoulders. It’s like a golf swing. You need to have full commitment to the swing and the follow through. Twist your shoulders, twist your head and your lower body will catch up.”

As for the semi-mythical full rotator, it requires an extra, conscious, and quite a physical huck. “The foreign part is coiling your body to get that extra part of the rotation.”

Feeling it? Go! Try!

Blow a thousand waves. But that first big air you stomp? Tell me you won’t be smiling.

Even if you’re old, y’ain’t outta the game. Watch this from the nearly 50-year-old Brad Gerlach.